‘Chuck-e-Cheese legislation’ passes Senate

The Alaska Senate voted unanimously, 20-0 on Wednesday, to approve a measure that clarifies the state’s gambling laws with respect to businesses like Chuck-e-Cheese and Dave and Buster’s.

Senate Bill 157 is a “housekeeping measure,” sponsor Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said on the Senate floor. It ensures that the state’s definition of “gambling” does not include games that issue tickets that can then be exchanged for prizes. Claw machines also would be exempted from the state’s gambling statutes.

“This is a bill to help grow the economy,” McGuire said, explaining that the national Dave and Buster’s chain is preparing to spend $23 million on a 44,000 square-foot bar/restaurant/arcade complex in Anchorage’s Dimond Center Mall, but it wanted legal surety first.

“This bill is keeping with our desire to focus on the budget,” she added.

Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, voted for the bill and said he did so to protect businesses like Juneau’s Bullwinkle’s Pizza, which has been a destination for his children and grandchildren for more than 40 years.

SB 157 now goes to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. The House has vowed to put off non-budget items until it completes a budget. SB 157 must navigate the House committee process, pass a full vote of the House, and be signed by Gov. Bill Walker before becoming effective.

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